PCOMP MIDTERM - HAUNTED BOX

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Monica and I worked together on this project.

Ideation:

Our very first idea was to collaborate with the theatre department on their halloween event. After discussing their needs and our skills, we decided it was best if we started with something on a smaller scale.

When coming up with ideas and thinking about what halloween was to us, we knew we wanted the dictate/control the users journey with our product.

We decided to make a “haunted box”. The journey would be as follows:

  • The box would shake in order to get the users attention

  • When the user came closer to the box, the box would open

  • At this point we assumed the user would be expecting something to pop out. We would set a delay that would get the user confused and hopefully make them feel more comfortable approaching the box and looking inside.

  • After said delay, an object would pop out of the box and trigger a sound.

Process:

With the help of Seho, we mapped out and pseudo coded our journey.

We started testing out each of our functions.

During this process we particularly struggled with getting combining all of our functions to work simultaneously using the same micro controller. For example, the delays in our blinking LED’s sequence would mess with the rest of our functions.

During this process we also dropped the shaking of the box and sequence of the box opening and then something popping out because we could not figure them out. We tested out using a DC motor to make the box shake, but our construction didn’t allow it.

Fabrication:

We then moved on to building our prototype.

Struggles and Takeaways:

Personally, I found fabrication the hardest part. We spent a lot of time troubleshooting our original plan and working on the circuits and programming that we didn’t think too much on the fabrication. We struggled with the sizes of our components as well as the fit and weight. The importance of planning out fabrication early on in the process something I will definitely keep in mind moving forward.

We also learnt that it was possible to program all sequences with the same micro controller. For the delay issue, using milli’s would’ve solved it.

We got great feedback from the class, in particular being more mindful of where the proximity is placed and how that affects the element of surprise.

Overall it was a great learning experience and we were happy that even with all the struggles and shortcomings, users were still scared and intrigued by the process.

Final Product:

FINAL PROJECT - IDEAS

When actively thinking about it, I’m struggling with coming up with ideas for my final project. The anticipation of everything I want it to be gets in the way of the creative process so I’m working on that. For now, here are some ideas that I have written down in my notebook since I started ITP that could potentially become the final project and hopefully even more. PLEASE NOTE: these are very vague at this point, I need to think about them more and consider the possible applications for them in order to address whether they are a good idea to pursue.

IDEA 1:

Yesterday at our Applications class, Dennis Crowley gave a talk on his experience while at ITP and his journey founding Foursquare and growing it. One advice he gave us that stuck with me was to pursue solutions for problems we have regardless of how silly the problem might be, ignoring things like “is there a need for this?”, “will anybody actually use it?”.

I love boxing in my free time (by any means professionally or even good haha - just for fun). In Panama, I had a trainer that used to practice pad work with me for 2 hours several times a week. When I started looking for a replacement in NY before moving I realized the costs here were triple the amount than back home. A friend suggested I join a group class and work on the bag but what I really enjoyed about my classes was the duality in the combinations and having to anticipate my trainers movements. So it got me thinking. I could probably count 3 or 4 combinations we used in every class, whether they were the same one after each other or they kept switching up was up to my trainer and for me to anticipate. So I thought it would be cool to build a padded “arm” that had let’s say 4 combinations as different events and a for loop that would pick randomly between this until it is set back to restart. The user would be able to control the speed (ideally) so that it was accessible to all levels and eventually (when I learn how to do it), I could incorporate an interface that would read your heart rate, calories burnt and track your performance.

IDEA 2:

Another talk that stood out to me was the amazing Joy Mountford and her presentation on her work with autonomous vehicles. I found it extremely interesting and inspiring, particularly the concept of computers imitating humans and her struggle achieving this through/with sound. This is something I would really like to research and explore and one of the main reasons I decided to pursue this program. I’m interested in knowing what part of our interactions do we single out as ‘human’, what aspects of it make it ‘human’ (she used expressive interjections as an example), how much can this interaction be replicated and how far can it be pushed.

A possible final project would be to develop a tool that explores one or more aspects of this interaction with the focus being on testing the limitations of computer interaction vs human and what feelings will this interaction evoke on the user, how comfortable or uncomfortable they feel and why.

Along these same lines, I would also like to explore the concept of fear in every day interactions/life and what role could technology play in helping overcome them.

I don’t really have an idea of how the final product for this would look like. I need to do research first and see what forms it takes from there but it is something I am really interested in pursuing, whether it is in this class or throughout my time at ITP.

LAB - MAKE SOMETHING!

For this week lab’s I decided to make a bubble maker. I had the idea from seeing a digital render of one that was using clogs to rotate the wand up and down and I thought I could do that with the servo motor.

I used the servo motor, dc motor and referenced the code for ‘sweep’ under the servo library.

I started by taping the wand directly onto to the servo motor and connecting it to the arduino following the IGO rule and connected to pin 9. When I first did this, my servo motor was getting power but it wasn’t rotating. Initially I thought the motor wasn’t working properly but then realized I had the power connected to ground and the ground to power (and now I’ll never forget which is which!).

Then I ran the ‘sweep’ code. I started playing around with the delay and the rotation angle as I was trying to make it to pause at the top for a certain amount of time before starting again but I only got it to go significantly slower which wasn’t my intention.

Then I connected the dc motor and this is where my project failed. When I initially tested the dc motor (I only connected it to power and ground since it would be working as the fan), the speed even though it was really fast, seemed to be perfect to create the air flow needed to create the bubbles — I found out there are some motor controllers at the shop that would allow me to control with the speed of the dc motor which I would like to play with at some point but I digress. So when I went to fabricate my DIY fan I could not get the air to flow in the right direction with the right amount of power.

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So this is what I wanted the project to look like (this is me actually blowing the bubbles behind the scenes)

But instead it looked like this:

And there was a lot of this:

Here is the code:

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OBSERVATION POST - PUBLIC INTERACTION

For this assignment, I decided to observe the check-in kiosks at airports, in this case Newark. In my personal experience using these (as someone holding a non US passport) I have found these to be more troubling and time consuming than just going up to the counter.

When observing the interaction of other customers, I noticed they seemed to be frustrated and confused, most of them looking to be checked-in by a representative instead of using the kiosks. They were even more frustrated as the airline wasn’t allowing them to just go up to the counter or line up. They needed to use the kiosks. The stress and time sensitive aspects of flying probably don’t help either, but I think forcing customers to use a product wasn’t the best approach.

Tying it back to one of the readings from last week, ‘Design for Everyday Things’, this seems to be a product that pushes technology without a real, functioning outcome to back it up. The concept is there - but does it significantly help alleviate the issues they were dealing with before? I would think this was implemented in order to make the check-in process faster and go more smoothly, but as of now, in my opinion, it is doing the exact opposite.

LAB - DIGITAL & ANALOG INPUT/OUTPUT

For this assignment I played around with digital input and output to create the circuit. I found it was a little bit easier to understand the circuit now that we are using code as I was able to clearly see the commands such as digitalWrite or read and pinModes.

For the first lab, I followed along with the instructions on the syllabus. I had two LEDs as digital outputs and a pushbutton as digital input. Initially I thought my circuit wasn’t working as the green LED light’s was very dim and I couldn’t see it. I changed the resistor and the light was brighter.

Then I moved on to controlling an LED with a potentiometer. First I set up the breadboard as per the instructions and then worked on the code. Since I could see what was control the brightness and what was controlling the potentiometer, it was easier to understand.

Initially I had the potentiometer on the other side of the breadboard and nothing connecting it to the circuit so it didn’t work. Once someone pointed it out to me I was able to fix it and get the circuit working.

Potentiometer and LED
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For the next lab I worked on controlling an LED light with a photo resistor/light sensor. Setting up the breadboard was very similar to the way it was set up with the potentiometer with the exception that I needed to add a resistor. I realized a potentiometer is a resistor in itself, so that’s why I didn’t need one in the previous lab.

Initially, I thought the circuit wasn’t working due to the resistors (as per the same lab) because it dimmed the light but it didn’t go off entirely. To check this, I found out the range of the light sensor using the serial.println function which was 4 - 212 which I believe is the reason why it wasn’t shutting off completely when trying it out.

Thinking about potential ideas for the the midterm project I was wondering - is it possible to completely dim/shut off a light with a sensor? Does the depend on the code or the type of sensor?

For the creative idea, I worked with Abie and Winnie and tried to control a servo motor with a pushbutton but we could not get it to work. We were powering the servo motor and got it working without the pushbutton but not with it. We found code for similar projects before and from it I understood it the controlling of it was dictated by a for loop that set it to rotate 180 degrees. We believe our mistake was in setting up the breadboard but couldn’t figure out where it was.

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LAB - Electronics

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  As you can see, when testing the potentiometer it started to fuse. I’m still unsure why, but my guess is it was touching the breadboard?

As you can see, when testing the potentiometer it started to fuse. I’m still unsure why, but my guess is it was touching the breadboard?

For this Lab I worked with Abi and Winnie and we focused on understanding the circuits (specifically how to make sure it is closed) and on testing materials to understand their conductivity in order to make switches out of them. We worked with a sheet of Mylar and some aluminum covered beads used in jewelry and fashion.

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We kept testing the materials but couldn’t get the circuit to work. Under the impression that the reason for it was that the materials weren’t conductive enough, we wrapped the beads in aluminum foil - but it still didn’t work. After asking for help from someone on the floor, we realized the issue wasn’t the material but the circuit instead - we hadn’t closed it.

Once we figured that out, we got it working with both materials.